“This book is not about poetic freedom in the sense of claiming freedom for poetry, freeing poetry from internal or state censorship,” writes Carmen Bugan in the introduction of Poetry and the Language of Oppression: Essays on Politics and Poetics. “Rather, the following chapters are about the nature of poetry as a form of salvation—from political oppression.” Through five probing chapters with titles such as “Sounding the Deeps of Nature,” “The ‘Lyric I,’” and “Writing in Turbulent Times,” Bugan incorporates pieces from her life and writing as well as the work of other writers, including Meena Alexander, Jorge Luis Borges, and Wole Soyinka, to consider how poetry acts as a healing language in times of public duress. In this powerful and personal book, Bugan brings up questions about literary testimony and the meaning of freedom in current times, while confronting the power of language. “We are born into language and words shape how we understand the world and our place in it,” she writes.
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